The European Union is making a push to raise its profile in two trouble spots in the South Caucasus, Abkhazia and Nagorno-Karabakh. Brussels insists its forays in the region are nothing more than routine diplomacy. But some observers believe the EU is hoping to push back against Russia’s troublemaking in Ukraine.
Kazakhstan is scrambling to keep its diplomatic options open amid rapidly rising Western-Russian tension. Not wanting to get dragged down by Western sanctions imposed on Russia, Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s administration is ramping up an international charm offensive.
Energy-poor Turkey stands to benefit from Moscow’s surprise decision to drop the $45-billion South Stream natural gas pipeline project, analysts say. At the same time, it raises questions about whether Turkey will become a pawn in the broader energy contest between Russia and the EU.
Pro-Western parties have retained a slim majority in the national legislature, but their hold on parliament may not last long unless substantive progress is made in tackling rampant corruption, observers predict.
President Vladimir Putin accused the West of trying to destroy Russia, drawing a parallel with Hitler's invasion, and said Moscow will never bend to the will of foreigners, talking tough in an annual address after a year of conflict and crisis that has severely strained ties with the United States and Europe.
When Azerbaijan served as chair of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers, it scoffed at the spirit and purpose of the organization and moved vigorously to squash all forms of free speech at home. Now that Baku no longer holds the top spot, civil society activists are worrying about what Azerbaijani authorities will do next.